The pivotal role of education as an instrument of social change by altering the human perspective and transforming the traditional mindset of society is well recognized. The universalisation of education has become the top priority, especially for the developing countries. But the extension of quality education to remote and rural regions becomes a Himalaya task for a large country like India with multi-lingual and multi-cultural population separated by vast geographical distances and in many instances, inaccessible terrain. Since independence, India has seen substantial increase in the number of educational institutions at primary, secondary and higher levels as well as the student enrolment. But the lack of adequate rural educational infrastructure and non-availability of good teachers in sufficient numbers adversely affect the efforts made in education. EDUSAT is the first Indian satellite built exclusively for serving the educational sector and it was launched successfully by GSLV-F01 on 20-9-2004. It is mainly intended to meet the demand for an interactive satellite based distance education system for the country. It strongly reflects India’s commitment to use space technology for national development, especially for the development of the population in remote and rural locations.
EVOLUTION OF EDUSAT
The concept of beaming educational programmes through satellites was effectively demonstrated for the first time in India in 1975-76 through the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) conducted using the American Application Technology Satellite (ATS-6). During this unique experiment, which is hailed as the largest sociological experiment conducted anywhere in the world, programmes pertaining to health, hygiene and family planning were telecast directly to about 2400 Indian villages spread over six states. Later, with the commissioning of INSAT system in 1983, a variety of educational programmes are being telecast. With the success of the INSAT based educational services, a need was felt to launch a satellite dedicated for educational service and ISRO conceived the EDUSAT Project in October 2002. EDUSAT is to be launched on board ISRO's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV, in September 2004. EDUSAT was developed by ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore. The payloads were developed by Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad. Master Control Facility at Hassan is responsible for all post launch operations of the satellite. It is specially configured to meet the growing demand for an interactive satellite based distance education system for the country through audio-visual medium, employing Direct To Home (DTH) quality broadcast. The satellite will have multiple regional beams covering different parts of India.
EDUSAT FOR RURAL STUDENTS
The main purpose of this is to provide education to all people primarily children from remote areas of the country who cannot go to schools or colleges. The classes would be conducted by various State Education Boards, NCERT, CBSE, Universities etc in a studio environment using power point presentations as well as the common black board. There could be interactive as well as non interactive sessions offered. Classes would be conducted in a studio environment eliminating the need for a large number of competent, qualified teachers and televised to the entire nation. These classes would be beamed to pre-destined areas using the EDUSAT similar to regional TV programs on 'Doordarshan'. It will be in the form of TV programs Students attending the classes will be able to ask questions to the teachers conducting classes through SMS, email or other mode of communication, something similar to a TV talk show. To enable this, schools/colleges should have an interactive receiving terminal which is currently being supplied free by ISRO to selected schools/colleges as the whole program is at an experimental stage. In addition these...